Categorized | MLS, MLS Match Reports

Earthquakes Steal First Leg From Galaxy in Stoppage Time

Posted on 05 November 2012 by iyeo

All season long, the San Jose Earthquakes had developed a flair for the dramatic.

Eight times in the regular season the Quakes had found the back net in stoppage times to rescue points for the Quakes on its way to capturing the Supporters Shield, and number nine was the first of the playoffs for the Quakes, as Victor Bernardez’s free kick goal in the 94th minute of stoppage gave the Quakes a 1-0 win in the first leg of its Western Conference semifinal series against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

“I thought it was an even game,” Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said. “For an away performance, with a banged up squad, we’re obviously happy with the result.”

Bernardez’s moment came courtesy of Simon Dawkins, whose battle with Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas for a loose ball led to Dawkins going to the ground and referee Ricardo Salazar awarded a free kick for San Jose from about 31 yards out, much to the dismay of the Galaxy. Center Back Victor Bernardez stepped in with a Cuauhtémoc Blanco-like run towards the ball and his set piece took a deflection towards the right corner, keeper Josh Saunders did get to the ball, but it also got underneath him as well and the end result was the ball trickling across the goal line for yet another stoppage time goal.

“You’re trying to see through the wall, ball goes through the wall, deflects, takes a weird spin, and you’re trying to react based on what’s in front of you,” Saunders said. “My play was not acceptable, I take the blame for covering the goal, and unfortunately, that’s what happened.”

The goal gives San Jose a crucial one-goal lead heading into the second leg at San Jose, though LA certainly did its best to go into the second leg with the result in its favor. The Earthquakes did have one good look in the third minute when Ramiro Corrales sprung Chris Wondolowski with a perfect throw in from the left side into the penalty area. Wondolowski outraced Center Back Tommy Meyer for the ball, but Meyer’s last minute challenge forced Wondolowski to shoot off Meyer and thus force a corner.

The Galaxy dominated possession soon after, getting its first chance in the eighth minute when David Beckham curled a free kick into the box to Robbie Keane, but Keane’s header just missed the back post. The Galaxy then got another chance in the 39th minute when Juninho won a battle with Bernardez for a ball on the left side and immediately broke for goal. Juninho pushed inside the box and laid for Landon Donovan, who then looked for Keane inside the six, but his cross instead got behind the striker. The Galaxy continued to apply the pressure in the second half, and Keane had the best looks for LA, leading a break in the 72nd minute and firing just outside the 18, but was saved by Busch. Keane’s second chance, which occurred in the 86th minute however turned out to be the miss agonizing miss for the Galaxy, as Mike Magee beat Justin Morrow to an open ball and laid a ball off to Donovan. Donovan then cut inside and left a ball for Keane near the top of the box and let loose a volley for the left corner, only to see it hit off the crossbar.

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